Doing, Being and D&D

So, D&D 3 and 3.5 have these things called feats. Feats are a fairly scarce commodity; if your character goes through all 20 levels and is not human, a fighter, nor a wizard, he’ll get a total of 7 of them. Humans get an extra feat at 1st level; fighters and wizards get bonus feats every so often that are picked from a restricted list. (Some other classes get bonus feats as well, but they’re generally either “You get this particular feat” or “You get one of these two feats”, so there isn’t much room for customization from them.) Feats fall into one of two classes: those that let you do interesting things (Dodge, Point Blank Shot, Craft Wondrous Item), and those that are something special about you (Lightning Reflexes, Toughness, Dragonblood).

Then someone came up with the bright idea of flaws. Flaws are basically anti-feats; instead of making you better at something, they make you worse. In return, you get an extra feat. Flaws are almost all of the ‘being’ category, though there are many that require you to act in disadvantageous ways as a result of the being, e.g. a flaw which requires you to drop your shield if your enemy loses his, out of a sense of fair play.

Between feats and flaws, the days of being able to completely describe your character by listing her race, class, level and stats are over. A fighter with Point Blank Shot and Quick Draw (arrow) is a different creature from one with Weapon Focus (greatsword) and Endurance, and a rogue with Deceitful and Persuasive is different from his companion with Acrobatic and Agile.

Still, I (an I imagine others) find it frustrating that ‘doing’ and ‘being’ feats are bought with the same limited currency. I don’t see how a natural talent for stealth is the same sort of thing as the ability to brew a magic potion. And it makes no sense whatsoever that you can buy the ability to brew the potion by being bad at hiding. More to the point, it makes it harder to make the character you want.

I can’t think of any way to work this out that doesn’t either overpower characters to an insane degree (whenever you’d get a feat, get one ‘doing’ and one ‘being’) or screw with the way the system works (only allow ‘being’ feats at 1st level, so that prestige classes that require two of them–say, Endurance and Iron Will–are only open to humans). Ideas?


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